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10 Cheap Airfare Tips

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip -- July, 2001, Vol. 5 No. 3

THIS MONTH'S TIP: 10 tips +1 to Save Money on Airfare

The first several tips come from Charles McCool's new and very useful book, "Winning the Airfare Game: Save Money and Stress on Every Flight" (Hawk Ridge Press). To learn more about his book, and for your chance to win a copy in a trivia contest, visit

1. If you're quoted a fare that's too expensive and the flight connects through an intermediate city, price two separate itineraries, to the connecting city and to your final destination.

2. Traveling with someone old enough for a senior discount? The discount may apply to you as well.

3. If you or a family member is in the military, you may be able to get a Space-A flight through the armed services, at a tiny fraction of the usual ticket cost (an international flight for $25!). Also, if you fly in uniform, some commercial airlines will give you a discount.

4. Buy a first class upgrade for as little as $25 on some small regional airlines.

5. On international flights, it may be substantially cheaper to book your connecting domestic flight on the same airline and as part of the same itinerary; they will put you on their domestic partner airline. McCool gives the example of flying from Chicago to Cairo for just $50 more than New York to Cairo.

6. Since most discounted round trip tickets require that you complete travel in 30 days, check out a pair of one-way tickets if you want to stay longer.

7. It can sometimes be cheaper to fly through the city you really want to visit to a farther destination, spend a short time there, and then fly back to your actual destination. Unlike the so-called "hidden city discount," where you never board the second leg, this is legal and works even if you're checking bags.

8. Get faster service (and often, better compensation) by calling the airline's toll-free number if there are problems at the airport, rather than rushing the service agent along with 200 other stranded passengers.

He has many more great tips. If you do a lot of flying, this book is a wonderful investment at $13.95. Even better, if you enter "frugal fun" under Special Instructions on the order form at: he will offer you a discounted price of $12.50 ($13.06 for Virginia residents). This discount is only on mail-in orders; you'll need to print out the order form and send it with a check. As I do, he offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee.

A similar book that I've recommended previously is "Fly Cheap" by Kelly Monaghan ( Here's one of dozens of good tips from that source:

9. If you have to fly repeatedly to one city (say, as a consultant) for short trips that would not span a Saturday night (and therefore qualify for low rates), buy a one-way ticket to the destination city, and then a series of round trip tickets from the consulting city back home (each of which crosses a Saturday night).

For more on this book, please read the March, 2000 Frugal Fun Tipsheet, archived (with all the others over more than four years) at

10. A reader suggestion that happened to come in last week, from Linda Adams, who owns a "pampering gift company" called Elegant Pleasures: "If you want to fly, always call the airlines on Wednesday morning at 12:01 a.m. That's when they release all of their new fares and that's when you can get the cheapest flights." (Note from Shel: Wednesday also tends to be when the e-mail airfare special bulletins come out.)

Of course, I can't leave you without at least one tip directly from me! After all, the travel chapter of my book, "The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook," is crammed with money-saving ideas. So here's a bonus tip:

11. Vary airports and departure dates to sometimes slash hundreds of dollars off airfares. For instance, if you want Miami, try Fort Lauderdale or West Palm. Oakland and San Jose are easy alternatives to San Francisco. Albany, Hartford, Philadelphia, Islip, and White Plains are all pretty close to New York. Moving your flight date a day or two up or down, or changing the time of day, may also give you significant savings.

Return to the Frugal Fun Tips Archives
Preview Shel Horowitz's Penny Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook a 280-page e-book that shows you how to save a big pile of money on travel, dining, entertainment, recreation, and all sorts of other fun.
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